January 04, 1999

A Dance Session (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

35mm infrared film
In some ways, I have been spoiled over the past two years because many of the people I have worked had prior modelling experience. Though the images may be as strong, it is a very different process working with an inexperienced model.

After working on a series of studio portraits (the reason we were in the studio in the first place), I asked Cheryl if she wanted to make some figure images to round out the session. She was familiar with my work, and had mentioned a curiosity about posing, but had never confirmed her intent to model for me nude. After considerable thought, Cheryl said she would try doing some figure work, but her trepidation was very evident.
35mm infrared film
I will forever think of these photos as being from the "Tori Amos Sessions." Cheryl had brought some music with her to play while we made portraits, and we kept the CDs playing as we did the figure images. A little nervous, Cheryl kept her back to me as I started photographing. She started moving and dancing to the music, singing along and ignoring me. Rather than disturb her, I just began to work with the movement, setting aside the 4"x5" and using the faster and more responsive Nikon to explore the hard light falling across her hands and torso. As the session progressed, Cheryl gradually turned towards me, until she was dancing, facing me.

In many ways, these images are more about Cheryl than they are about my vision - the session was spent responding to her, rather than exploring her and building on the work I have done in the studio previously. Although that may be a subtle difference, I can see it in almost every image. The photos are no less successful than my other studio images, but they are very different, and where they fall within my work as a whole is hard to say. Where my imagery is usually very subdued and still, the work with Cheryl is full of motion, vivacious lines, and life.

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